Belgian comic artist Peyo (Pierre Culliford) (1924 – 1992) has been touted as the chief creator of Smurfs (or Les Schtroumpfs in French). The character Smurf appeared in a Belgian comic series ‘Johan et Piroulit’ in the episode La Flûte à six trous, in the magazine Le Journal de Spirou in October, 1958. However the idea was born during a casual lunchtime conversation between Peyo (Pierre Culliford) and Andre Franquin (1927 – 1992), another famous Belgian comic artist.
It was summer of 1958 and Peyo and Franquin were having lunch while enjoying their coastal vacations. Suddenly Peyo asked Fran
quin to pass him something but momentarily forgot the name. So he asked, “Give me…….Smurfs“. According to Peyo he had created the word to mean ‘a thin, anything, any thingy’ – whatever. Franquin replied, “Here you have Smurfs, when you are through smurfing, you resmurf it for me”. It became a common joke for them and they spent a few days ‘Smurfing’. In their free time they recited classic french fables by La Fontaine and Racine in their ‘Smurfed’ versions. It gave them sentences like, “Master Smurf on a smurfed tree had a smurf in his smurf”. And so on…..
Eventually by autumn Smurf had appeared in their comic series and in a few decades it emerged as one of the most successful comic series franchises of all times. An interesting example of where ideas come from.